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Evolution of Peak Palace–Fortress in Tibet:
The Reappearance of the Sangzhutse Palace–Fortress and Design of the Fortress Museum

Qing Chang

College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences


ABSTRACT  The dzong fortresses were the typical buildings for the unification of religious and governmental rulers in old Tibet. The archetype of the dzong fortress can be dated back to the 2nd century BC and evolved into those fortresses built on the top of the holy mountains. The Sangzhutse Fortress, popularly called ‘Little Potala’, was a hill–top building located in the centre of Shigatse city and was the grandest landmark among all local dzong fortresses of Tibet since the 14th century. It acted as the commanding point of the city skyline, and the spiritual anchor for the locals. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during the political turmoil in the 1960s. From 2004 to 2010, under the sponsorship of the Shanghai Municipal Government in cooperation with the local Tibetan authority, the team of the Design Institute of Tongji University completed research work of the dzong fortress, developing the whole design from the initial sketches to building construction plans, and surveying the construction process. The consolidation of the remaining structure and the restoration of the original skyline of the fortress were achieved through the organic combination of local traditional materials and crafts with new building technologies, producing a new living landmark of Shigatse city while maintaining its remains. The interior space, designed as the first museum in Shigatse and Western Tibet, was opened in 2010.


KEYWORDS  The Sangzhutse Fortress, evolution, restoration, revitalisation, folk–art museum

Received 26 Dec 2016, Accepted 23 Feb 2017

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